NBA Free Agency 2021 is almost upon us, and the Portland Trail Blazers will soon be making decisions about which incumbent players to offer contracts and who to lure off the market. Today John Hollinger of The Athletic ranked current NBA free agent Centers and found Portland’s current candidates lacking, even in a relatively mediocre class overall.
Hollinger used his homemade reference point called “BORD$”, which he describes this way:
How much value can we expect a given player to deliver for next season? I based this on two variables: the expected quality of the players’ minutes, and how many minutes we’d expect the player to play on an average team.
It’s worth noting that this free agency class has no Tier 1, Max Player candidates at center in Hollinger’s estimation.
After listing five Tier 2 candidates, including Andre Drummond and Kelly Olynyk, Hollinger finds a place for Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter, nestled in Tier 3, “Midlevel Guys”, ranked 7th overall.
This is an extremely generous valuation for the all-offense, no-defense Enes Kanter, although the numbers would suggest that his defensive vulnerabilities were far from the only reason Portland struggled on that end. Kanter can at least battle physically with bigger centers, making him a decent matchup option against the Joel Embiids and Jonas Valanciunases of the world, and offensively, he mashes smalls on switches and dominates on the glass.
Kanter signed for half this amount two years ago, and that’s likely where his market would end up again this time around — at the room exception or the taxpayer MLE. That team is unlikely to be Portland as the Blazers look to shore up one of the league’s leakiest defenses while simultaneously staring down tax issues.
This is far higher than Harry Giles III, though. Portland’s other free agent big ranked 33rd out of 36 players examined, deep into the minimum-offer Tier 5.
Portland’s dice roll on Harry Giles as a third center failed to pay off, as he shot just 43.3 percent from the field and couldn’t stem Portland’s bleeding at the defensive end. Giles is only 23, but at this point, he may need to head overseas to restore his value.
Several former Blazers centers also made Hollinger’s list. Hassan Whiteside ranked 8th, right with Kanter in the middle tier, while Robin Lopez and Ed Davis both sank to the minimum-contract 5th tier.
If you’re mining the market for Portland’s next center acquisition, you can find the entire list here.